August 5, 2021

Caribbean Trade and Development News Digest – April 11-17, 2021

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development News Digest for the week of April 11-17, 2021! We are back from our brief hiatus and are pleased to bring you the major trade and development news headlines and analysis from across the Caribbean Region and the world from the past week.

WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING?

A lot has happened while we were on break. We take this opportunity to express our thoughts and prayers for our brothers and sisters in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who are currently being adversely impacted by the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano on the main island of St. Vincent. We also express our solidarity with brothers and sisters in Barbados, St. Lucia and other islands which have experienced ashfalls of varying intensity due to the eruption. CARICOM Heads of Government held a Special Meeting virtually to discuss the situation. Our islands are still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, more Sargassum seaweed and the threat of an impending hurricane season predicted to have “above-normal” activity. Please donate to the LaSoufriere relief efforts if you can! For example, you can donate to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) La Soufriere relief effort here. #oneCaribbean

The IMF/WB held their Spring Meetings 2021 virtually. The US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has proposed a global minimum corporate income tax, a proposal which Caribbean States should monitor.

We trade nerds all watched with interest and disquiet as a giant ship MV Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking shipping through that busy shipping lane for several days until being freed eventually. This insightful article from India Today explains the trade costs of this blockage.

This week I was pleased to be a moderator for the panel entitled “New Opportunities to Access Capital and Investment for SMEs” on Day 1 of the inaugural Island Finance Forum 2021 hosted and organised by Island Innovation. I was recently one of the contributors to IFC Review’s ‘Big Debate’ on “COVID-19 One Year On: How has the pandemic changed global finance, and how have IFCs adapted?”. Read the contributions here. I was also interviewed by Nearshore Americas on the possible implications of the EU’s tax blacklist for listed Caribbean IFCs. The article based on this interview may be viewed here.

THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS

So what have been some of the trade highlights from the past week? We now have the dates for the next World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference (MC 12). It will take place from 30 November to 3 December 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WTO has released its call for proposals for its next Public Forum to be entitled ““Trade beyond COVID-19: Building Resilience” which will be held in September. Please read more here.

The WTO also held an event entitled “COVID-19 and Vaccine Equity: What Can the WTO Contribute?”. The Chair’s summary may be accessed here.

The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Trade committees approved the EU-U.K. trade deal, but full chamber approval is still required. Read more

There was also an initialling ceremony held for the Post-Cotonou Agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Organization of Africa, Caribbean, Pacific States (OACPS). The Speech by EU Commissioner Urpilainen may be read here.

REGIONAL NEWS

IMF predicting economic growth for Caribbean countries

Jamaica Observer: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Thursday said that growth in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) recovered briskly in the second half of last year, yet still more slowly than the global economy and other emerging markets. Read more

Bousquet’s Bulletin: Next CARICOM Secretary General: A Woman

Caribbean News Global: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is known to make and break historical records over its 50 years in the making. One thing the male-dominated regional body has not yet done is break the proverbial glass ceiling at the Guyana-based Secretariat, where every secretary-general since its inception has been a Caribbean man. Read more

SIB Release Latest Stats on Belize’s External Trade

LoveFM: The Statistical Institute of Belize has issued its February report on Belize’s external trade situation. In February 2021, the country’s imports were valued at one hundred thirty-nine point eight million dollars. Read more

Jamaica Government strengthens capacity to tackle illegal gun trade

Jamaica Gleaner: The government is bolstering its capacity to intercept the trafficking of guns and ammunition into the country, as well as implementing a more robust legislative framework to punish those who engage in the illicit trade. Read more

Bahamas rum exports to benefit from over $110M in EU-supported trade development for the Caribbean

Eye Witness News: In an ongoing effort to support the government of The Bahamas’ initiatives for economic diversification, Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary of The Bahamas to the Kingdom of Belgium and Head of Mission to the European Union Maria O’Brien sought assistance under the African, Caribbean, Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) TradeComm II Programme to develop a trade export strategy for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Read more

Guyana taking another tilt at improving trade relations with the region

Stabroek: With successive political administrations in Guyana having made several failed attempts at improving the country’s trading links with the rest of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the present government is reportedly having yet another try at improving trading links with the region, according to a March 27 Caribbean Business Report story which hints at the likelihood of yet another attempt to do so. Read more

Guyanese businesses urged to do more than exporting coconuts to DR

Guyana News Room: Guyana’s private sector came together on Wednesday for a virtual educational session on the 1998 CARICOM-Dominican Republic (DR) Free Trade Agreement to which Guyana became a party in 2004. Read more

Scrap metal trade to re-open with strict regulations in place

Guyana News Room: The government has approved the re-opening of the scrap metal trade after a six-month ban on April 08, 2021. Read more

Gov’t holds first bilateral consultation with Canada, closer cooperation expected

Guyana News Room: The Irfaan Ali-led government held its first bilateral consultation with officials of the Canadian government earlier this week on a range of shared priority issues including COVID-19. Read more

Post-Cotonou: EU reaches agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific States

DW: The EU and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States have sealed a new agreement. DW speaks with the chief negotiators about finding common ground on issues including migration and human rights. Read more

Caribbean Netherlands: half of companies use emergency package

CBS: As of March 2020, a package of emergency measures has been in place in the Caribbean Netherlands to tackle the economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis. Nearly half of all local enterprises availed of a financial contribution towards their wage costs and/or fixed overhead last year. This is evident from new figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). Read more

EU-funded programme provides direct support to Bahamian farmers

EyeWitness News: In keeping with the mission of the government of The Bahamas to expand economic diversification and support the development of new sectors, The Bahamas has recently become a beneficiary of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries) Trade Capacity Building TradeComm II Programme under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). Read more

Saint Kitts And Nevis Participates In Inaugural Saint Kitts And Nevis-Canada Bilateral Consultation

ZIZ Online: The inaugural Saint Kitts and Nevis-Canada Bilateral Consultation Meeting was held on April 14, 2021, between senior officials within The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, Saint Kitts and Nevis and from Global Affairs, Canada (GAC). Read more

Deodat Maharaj | The imperative of FDI for Caribbean countries

Jamaica Gleaner: Citizens of the Caribbean are fully aware of the challenges we face. They know that governments across the region are financially stretched, which has been further accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

Taiwan to help Belize fully digitize

Amandala: To strengthen the close and cordial relations between Belize and Taiwan, the ambassadors of both nations met with ministers of each other’s government to discuss bond-strengthening measures and intentions for further cooperation. Read more

Wazim Mowla: Guyana using its foreign policy to strengthen relationship with old allies, build new partnerships with oil producing nations

OilNow: While some states aim to use foreign policy to increase their standing in the world, for advocacy, or as a tool to compete with others, Guyana’s has centered on promoting its economic development at home. Read more

Wazim Mowla: Vaccines Open an Opportunity for U.S. Diplomacy in the Caribbean

Real Clear Politics: Most governments in the Caribbean are racing to secure COVID-19 vaccines for their citizens. This has opened up an opportunity for the United States to use its economic and political clout to help coordinate vaccine distribution to the region. Read more

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

WTO Chief lays out global action to increase vaccine access

Reuters: The head of the World Trade Organization laid out a series of actions on Wednesday for countries and drug makers to increase production of coronavirus vaccines and share them more widely and fairly. Read more

European Parliament gives initial backing to UK trade deal

Reuters: The European Parliament’s committees on relations with Britain on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favour of the post-Brexit trade and cooperation agreement, clearing the path to its final ratification. Read more

100 days on, what impact has Brexit had on UK-EU trade?

Euronews: Three months after Brexit began for real when the EU’s rulebook stopped applying to the UK, many areas of life have noticed a difference. Read more

EU-UK trade plunges after Brexit: Eurostat

XInhua News: Trade in goods between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) has been deeply affected by Brexit, according to figures published Friday by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office. Read more

USTR Katherine Tai calls for bold action to put climate at center of trade policy

Reuters: U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Thursday laid out her vision for using trade policy to protect the planet and combat climate change, and said the United States must be a leader in preventing a catastrophic environmental chain reaction. Read more

Senators urge Biden to back temporary WTO waiver of IP rights to speed vaccine access

Reuters: Bernie Sanders and nine other Democratic senators urged President Joe Biden on Friday to back a temporary patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines that would allow countries to manufacture treatments locally and accelerate the global vaccination effort. Read more

Biden Trade Chief Meets Drugmakers, WTO Vaccine-Waiver Advocates

Bloomberg: President Joe Biden’s trade chief met with drugmakers and with groups seeking a waiver for sections of the World Trade Organization’s intellectual-property rules to improve vaccine access for poorer nations. Read more

Multiple U.S. trade partners risk ‘manipulator’ label in Yellen’s first currency report

Reuters: Taiwan and Thailand risk joining Vietnam and Switzerland in running afoul of U.S. currency manipulation triggers in Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s first foreign exchange report, expected this week, but whether she applies that label is unclear. Read more

China’s imports from US set record in first quarter, but their trade imbalance grows on strong Chinese exports

SCMP: Analysts tie China’s broader import rise to higher global commodity prices and stronger domestic demand, particularly in construction sector. Read more

Good reviews buoy odds Biden keeps US steel, aluminum tariffs set by Trump

S&P: The Biden administration has not disclosed where it will go with steel and aluminum tariffs set under former President Donald Trump, but recent favorable reviews could buoy the trade measures through the immediate future. Read more

Singapore ratifies mega free trade agreement RCEP

Hellenic Shipping News: Comprising about 30 per cent of global gross domestic product and close to a third of the world’s population, the deal will complement Singapore’s existing network of FTAs and boost trade and investment flows, the ministry said. Read more

Iran to ink free trade agreement with Pakistan: envoy

Dawn News: Iranian Consul General in Peshawar Hamid Reza Ghomi said on Wednesday that efforts were initiated to sign a free trade agreement between Iran and Pakistan. Read more

Patrick Anam Commentary on the Africa Regional Integration Index Report 2019

Patrick Anam blog: The African Union (AU) recently launched the Africa Regional Integration Index Report 2019 indication the level of integration on the African continent. As African countries ready themselves to trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it perhaps important that occasionally we look at the status of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) more so as they are viewed as building blocs in Africa’s integration. Read more

Urgent need for African free-trade infrastructure

Business Live: The AfCFTA agreement will only produce results if roads, pipelines and communication channels are put in place. Read more

Mauritius: Minister Bholah Chairs High-Level Committee With Private Sector On Free Trade Agreements

AllAfrica: A high-level committee pertaining to the application of Free Trade Agreements signed with countries such as India, China and Africa, was held this morning, at Newton Tower in Port Louis. The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, and brought together several stakeholders of the Private Sector. Read more

India, Mauritius FTA to come into effect from Apr 1

Business Standard: Several Indian products will enjoy the benefit of greater market access at concessional duties in Mauritius as the FTA signed between the two countries will come into effect from April 1. Read more

We are open to FTAs as long as it is a fair deal to us, Malaysia PM tells industry players

The Star: Malaysia is open to all free trade agreements (FTAs) as long as it is fair and benefits the nation, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told industry players. Read more

April 29 meeting shores up hopes on India-EU trade, investment talks next month

Hindustani Times: Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal and European Commission’s Valdis Dombrovskis will meet on April 29 ahead of the India-EU Summit. Read more

STRAIGHT FROM THE WTO

NEW ON THE CTLD BLOG

The Caribbean Trade & Development Digest is a weekly trade news digest produced and published by the Caribbean Trade Law & Development Blog. Liked this issue? To read past issues, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please subscribe to our Blog below:

caribbeantradelaw

The Caribbean Trade Law and Development Blog is owned and was founded by Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. (Dist.), LL.B. (Hons), a Caribbean-based trade and development consultant. She writes and presents regularly on trade and development matters affecting the Caribbean and other small states. You can follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw. All views expressed on this Blog are Alicia's personal views and do NOT necessarily reflect the views of any institution or entity with which she may from time to time be affiliated.

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